Brentford 1-0 Ipswich: Neal Maupay penalty keeps Bees play-off hopes alive
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 07/04/18 7:32pm
Brentford kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Ipswich thanks to top scorer Neal Maupay's second-half penalty.
The France striker sent Blues goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski the wrong way from the spot after Jonas Knudson's needless shove on Sergi Canos after 72 minutes.
Maupay's 12th goal of the season from the spot always looked like being the decider in a scrappy game marred by a series of niggly challenges.
Ipswich's misery was compounded when they lost centre-back Luke Chambers to injury inside 20 minutes after a collision with the Blues keeper, to be replaced by Myles Kenlock.
VOTE: EFL Goals of the Month
Watch and vote for your favourite March goal in the Championship, League One and League Two here...
The first reunion of Bees midfielder Alan Judge and Luke Hyam, who broke his leg in a horror tackle at Portman Road two years ago, saw the pair rarely clash in a stop-start affair.
Mick McCarthy's side always looked happy to sit back and hit Brentford on the break and it was a tactic that almost reaped rewards despite a dogged Bees rearguard.
The hosts' Yoann Barbet was first to hit the target, forcing Bialkowski to tip his angled drive wide after 10 minutes.
Losing Chambers minutes later did not affect the visitors and they continued to bank up on the edge of their area and invite the Bees to unlock them, while Connolly's speculative effort which flew just over the bar gave the Londoners something to think about as they pressed for the opener.
Dean Smith's side's best chance came on the half hour, a quickly taken Barbet free-kick finding Romaine Sawyers, who chested it down and sent his half-volley on the run fizzing just past the far post.
Adam Webster tried to respond at the other end minutes later but sliced well wide after a two-minute spell of concerted pressure from the Tractor Boys.
Judge almost had the perfect response to Hyam and his team-mates just before the break - but his fierce dipping drive was parried clear by Bialkowski into the path of Maupay, who could only divert it over.
Connolly thought he had given the visitors the lead almost on the whistle but his backheeled effort was ruled out for handball in the build-up.
At the finale of an open but scrappy first half, Ollie Watkins should have done better when he got a sight of goal - but his side-footed effort lacked the power to trouble the Town keeper.
After the break Martyn Waghorn was first to show, racing clear and firing in a low drive that Daniel Bentley did well to tip round the near post.
The penalty changed the game and Ipswich began to press more - and Bentley knew little about his point-blank stop that denied Grant Ward's thundering volley in the dying minutes.
Brentford, who moved up a place and stay five points adrift of the play offs, had the final word though when Canos' measured shot forced a full-length stop from Bialkowski.
Dean Smith: "We don't have any expectation on us apart from the expectation we put on ourselves. All we can do is concentrate on our own game and see where it takes us. We certainly won't be throwing the towel in, but we might need a few favours.
"That was as difficult a game as we have had this season. They made it very tough for us by going man for man which made it hard to get our passing game going, but you always expect that from a Mick McCarthy side. There were only two chances of note in the first half and it was always going to be something like a penalty that settled it."
Mick McCarthy: "Dean Smith has said they have deserved a pretty soft penalty and when managers say that it usually means they don't think it was one. I can't do anything about it. I was happy with the performance and we played well today but again it's all down to fine margins.
"I can't imagine me going at end of season has helped, but you saw the way the players have played for me. They were terrific today and in the last three games but the atmosphere it has created is not good for anybody."